The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced that it is seeking public comment on revising hours-of-service regulations, which limit the operating hours of commercial truck drivers. Regulations related to short-haul operations, adverse driving conditions, 30-minute breaks, and split sleeper-berths could change as a result.
“The New England Fuel Institute applauds FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez for his leadership in pursuing these regulatory reforms while helping to ensure the important balance between motor carrier efficiency and operational safety,” NEFI President and CEO Sean Cota said in a statement issued Aug. 22, the day after the FMCSA announcement.
“NEFI is pleased that under the administrator’s leadership, the FMCSA now recognizes the disproportionate regulatory burden that ‘one size fits all’ rulemaking places on Main Street energy providers and the short-haul trucking industry as a whole,” Cota said.
The New England Fuel Institute, Southborough, Mass., is a trade association for wholesale and retail distributors of liquid heating fuels in New England and the Northeast. NEFI members are mostly small, family-owned and operated businesses that deliver heating oil, propane and renewable fuels such as Bioheat.
“Sensible revisions” to the short-haul limit, the exception for adverse driving conditions, and off-duty period limitations would provide important regulatory relief to small-business motor carriers while maintaining commercial motor vehicle and driver safety, according to NEFI.
An upcoming “Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” which will be published in the Federal Register, responds to widespread Congressional, industry, and citizen concerns and seeks feedback from the public to determine if HOS revisions may alleviate unnecessary burdens placed on drivers while maintaining safety, the FMCSA announced on Aug. 21. The comment period will be open for 30 days.
FMCSA said that the four specific areas under consideration for revision are:
- Expanding the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty, in order to be consistent with the rules for long-haul truck drivers;
- Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions;
- Revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after 8-hours of continuous driving; and
- Reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks that are equipped with a sleeper-berth compartment.
In addition, the ANPRM seeks public comment and relevant data on two recently submitted petitions requesting regulatory relief from HOS rules pertaining to the 14-hour on-duty limitation (filed by the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association) and pertaining to the 10-hour off-duty requirement (filed by TruckerNation).
Earlier this year, the congressionally mandated electronic logging device (ELD) rule, which required most FMCSA-regulated motor carriers to convert their records from paper to an electronic format, became effective. While compliance with the ELD rule has reached nearly 99% across the trucking industry, it has also brought focus to HOS regulations, especially with regard to certain regulations having a significant impact on agriculture and other sectors of trucking, FMCSA noted in its announcement.
Additional information on the ANPRM, including how to submit comments to the Federal Register docket, is available at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-service-advanced-notice-proposed-rulemaking
The first in a series of public listening sessions on the ANPRM will take place Friday, August 24, 2018, in Dallas, Texas, at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center beginning at 3 p.m. local time. Further information is available at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/event/public-listening-session-hours-service.
Information on current HOS regulations is available at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-service/summary-hours-service-regulations.
Information on electronic logging devices (ELDs) carried on-board long-haul trucks and used by commercial vehicle enforcement officers to check compliance with HOS regulations is available